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October 2001
Vol. 10, No. 10, p 45.
Industry Facts & Figures
Mass (spec) growth

The mass spectrometry market has seen rapid sales escalation—with some help from the proteome.

Since their inception, spectroscopic instruments have been critical in the laboratory. The tasks of identifying compounds, elucidating chemical structures, monitoring processes, and so on depend on such techniques, and, consequently, the market for the required spectrometers and auxiliary equipment is a several billion-dollar industry. Many segments of the spectrometry industry have grown in recent years, largely to meet the needs of the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries. However, the most substantial escalation has occurred in the mass spectrometry (MS) sector, which is budding as a major partner in the future of drug discovery and biological analysis.

MS instrument sales have grown almost 11% annually since 1995, and they reached a mark of about $2 billion in 2000 (1). These figures include the hyphenated GC-MS systems (about $350 million), as well as the rapidly expanding LC-MS division (about $250 million), which has grown at a rate of 12–15% per year (2).

FIGURE 1: Percentage of presentation abstracts (posters or oral) at the American Society for Mass Spectrometry Conference on Mass Spectrometry and Allied Topics that include the word proteome(s) or proteomic(s), 1997–2001.
Source: American Society of Mass Spectrometry conference abstract databases, www.asms.org.
Improvements in the performance of LC-MS pairing methods, along with the general evolution of MS to more compact and adaptable instruments over the years, has done much to address the need of the drug and biotechnology industries for highly efficient analysis and screening. In addition, continued innovations in the use of “gentler” ionization techniques, such as electrospray ionization and matrix-assisted laser desorption and ionization, time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) MS, have made the analysis of very large biomolecules much more straightforward. The TOF market for protein analysis is currently well above $50 million and is expanding at a yearly rate of 10–15% (2). This type of growth largely stems from the central role that MS plays in the more than $500 million and rising enterprise of proteomics (see “Proteins on Mass...”). The escalating importance of this application in the MS research environment is evident from its increasing infiltration, over the past five years (Figure 1), into one of the principal annual MS gatherings, the American Society for Mass Spectrometry Conference on Mass Spectrometry and Allied Topics (www.asms.org).

The continual intensification of interest in proteomics worldwide, along with the current positioning of LC-MS techniques as the wave of the future for highly parallel protein analysis, will likely continue to push MS sales, as well as technology, to new heights.


  1. Strategic Directions International, Inc., www.strategic-directions.com/
  2. Instrumenta: Analytical Instrument Industry Report, www.aiireport.com/market_briefings/mbms.htm.

David Filmore is a staff editor of Today’s Chemist at Work. Send your comments or questions regarding this article to tcaw@acs.org or the Editorial Office 1155 16th St N.W., Washington, DC 20036.

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